A crowd organised under the Freedom Movement, bringing together several political parties, religious groups and civic society groups, gathered at National Treasury in Pretoria demanding a reduction in the fuel price. PHOTO: ANA

PRETORIA - The South African government led by President Cyril Ramaphosa has not intervened to cut runaway fuel prices because it does not care for its citizens, according to African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Kenneth Meshoe.

The ACDP leader was addressing a crowd of non-governmental organisations, political parties and activists organised as the Freedom Movement - protesting against "unaffordable" fuel prices in South Africa.

The crowd gathered at Church Square in Pretoria central, outside the National Treasury, where they were addressed by the organisers of the protest.

"It is important to realise and to note that the petrol that is used in neighbouring countries is supplied by South Africa. Shockingly, the very countries that are supplied by South Africa are [selling petrol] cheaper than South Africa. In Botswana, petrol costs R10,91 per litre, in Lesotho petrol costs R11,05, in Swaziland petrol costs R12,78. All that petrol comes from South Africa," Meshoe told the crowd.

"One of the reasons why petrol is cheaper in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland than in South Africa is that those countries care for their citizens. They subsidise petrol, but here we have a government that doesn't care for its people. We are saying, if our government doesn't care for citizens, it must go."

The Freedom Movement organised the protest outside the National Treasury, calling for an immediate reduction in the fuel levies which the civic organisation group said now make up to 33 percent of the total cost of fuel per litre.

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald urged the protesters to give the ruling African National Congress a rude awakening at the elections next year.

"As people of South Africa, we say stop the tax attack, then we must ensure that we register so that we can vote. We have the opportunity next year to use our power. We should use that power to send a strong message to the ANC that if you do not care for your citizens, we get rid of you," said Groenewald to applause from the crowd.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse's (OUTA) chief operating officer Ben Theron said the Ramaphosa administration must recover money stolen from state entities and use it to subsidise fuel.

"Go and fetch our money in Dubai, the money that was stolen out of Eskom, Transnet, Prasa and all those state institutions. A 100 billion was stolen, go fetch it in Dubai and use it to subsidise the fuel levy. Hear your people. We need a reduction right now because your people are suffering," said Theron.

"I appeal to the people of South Africa - it's time for change. It's time for a change, for a new government."

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said the effects of the high fuel prices are felt by the poor people.

“Treasury puts R5,33 on top of [every litre] of fuel that citizens can pay. I would accept if that money went into improving roads, doing jobs that help the people, but no, it goes to a bankrupt Road Accident Fund, it goes to a bloated Cabinet. You know that ministers don’t pay for petrol? If they paid, maybe they would have joined us here. That money goes to fund an ANC government that is no longer interested in the people,” said Maimane.

African News Agency (ANA)